Bronze Age Space Age
Gamelan Galak Tika
w/ Ensemble Robot & Camerata Gamelanica
Total Run Time: 46.8 Minutes
"When Kronos was in Bali recently, the Boston-based composer Christine Southworth gave me this new recording which her group Gamelan Galak Tika has just released. Her track, Heavy Metal, is very engaging and pulls fractured ears together in an elegant way."
- Kronos Quartet, My Secret Playlist
Gamelan Galak Tika
Mark David Buckles
The Heliphon & The Whirlybot
Shane Leonard, cajon
Matt Van Brink , accordion
Erik Nugent , EWI
Blake Newman, bass
Mei-mi Lan, clarinet
Gabe Merton, clarinet
Ryan Yure, bass clarinet
HEAVY METAL SOLOISTS
Shaw Pong Liu, violin
Blake Newman, bass
Erik Nugent, EWI
Eddie Whalen, electric guitar
Recorded by Joel Gordon and David Corcoran
Mixed and Mastered by Rob Friedman
Heavy Metal represents a new kind of fusion, multi-dimensional, making connections across cultures acoustic and electronic, western and eastern, high and low, human and machine. The piece was written for Gamelan Galak Tika, a Balinese gamelan in residence at MIT that has worked with electric instruments many times in the past, but this is certainly the first time a traditional Balinese gamelan has shared the stage with robotic instruments. In other ways, though, there is something very natural about these combinations: they reflect the way we all experience music in the 21st century. It could also be argued that this is simply an extension of the way music has always progressed and changed, as Chinese shawms morphed into oboes, and exotic middle eastern percussion instruments, like the cymbal and triangle, worked their way into the symphony orchestra. Heavy Metal engages the full force of two ensembles, Galak Tika and Ensemble Robot, as well as a living history of electroacoustic instruments, from the vintage lyricon to the Whirlybot. The sounds implicit in both senses of the title find their way into new combinations of struck bronze and excitable circuitry.
Heavy Metal is based on American hard rock music from the late 1970’s through the early 1990s. The idea started as a pun, because the keys of many Balinese gamelan instruments are made of metal, but when I began studying the melodic ideas and rhythms in heavy metal music, I found that they leant themselves very well to gamelan. The problem was that a gamelan has a very specific sound and limited timbral variation, the sounds of hit metal and skin. I feel that the sounds of the gamelan become much more interesting when combined with string sounds. Also, the gamelan uses a pentatonic scale so I am using western instruments and robots to expand the sound universe to a full spectrum.
In this piece, the gamelan and the western/robotic instruments play separately – rhythmically they are together, and they are working through the same material at the same time, but the western instruments and robots do not play the 5 notes that the gamelan plays, and more often than not they stay out of that key (a variation of E Major, the gamelan tuning being C#, D#, E, G, and A) altogether. This creates a sense of two harmonic worlds co-existing and cooperating, the West and our technology with Bali and their technology, much more primitive but very powerful nonetheless.
Heavy Metal was Commissioned by the Boston Museum of Science with the support of NEFA and Meet the Composer.
Agak-Agak and Rice Combo feature texts from Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus: A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc. by Rufus Estes. Recordings courtesy librivox.org
Rice Combo is all about food. The voice samples are taken from Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus. By listening to the piece carefully, you will be able to maintain a proper kitchen and serve delicious meals. The piece combines rhythmically charged musical fragments and shifting gamelan gong cycles.
- Po-Chun Wang
Text: "HINTS TO KITCHEN MAIDS: It is always necessary to keep your kitchen in the best condition.
Breakfast—If a percolator is used it should first be put into operation. If the breakfast consists of grapefruit, cereals, etc., your cereal should be the next article prepared. If there is no diningroom maid, you can then put your diningroom in order. If hot bread is to be served (including cakes) that is the next thing to be prepared. Your gas range is of course lighted, and your oven heated. Perhaps you have for breakfast poached eggs on toast, Deerfoot sausage or boiled ham. One of the above, with your other dishes, is enough for a person employed indoors.
When your breakfast gong is sounded put your biscuits, eggs, bread, etc., in the oven so that they may be ready to serve when the family have eaten their grapefruit and cereal.
Luncheon—This is the easiest meal of the three to prepare. Yesterday's dinner perhaps consisted of roast turkey, beef or lamb, and there is some meat left over; then pick out one of my receipts calling for minced or creamed meats; baked or stuffed potatoes are always nice, or there may be cold potatoes left over that can be mashed, made into cakes and fried.
Dinner—For a roast beef dinner serve vegetable soup as the first course, with a relish of vegetables in season and horseradish or chow-chow pickle, unless you serve salad.
If quail or ducks are to be served for dinner, an old Indian dish, wild rice, is very desirable. Prepare this rice as follows:
Place in a double boiler a cupful of milk or cream to each cupful of rice and add salt and pepper to taste. It requires a little longer to cook than the ordinary rice, but must not be stirred. If it becomes dry add a little milk from time to time.
Do not serve dishes at the same meal that conflict. For instance, if you have sliced tomatoes, do not serve tomato soup. If, however, you have potato soup, it would not be out of place to serve potatoes with your dinner.
Fish should never be served without a salad of some kind.
The above are merely suggestions that have been of material assistance to me."
Agak-Agak is a Southeast Asian method of cooking that is not concerned with specific ingredient measurements. Rather, ingredients are freely added by anyone helping to prepare the meal. To emulate this cooking style, I have blended elements of traditional Balinese music, jazz, funk, musique concrète, and ambient electronica. The piece plays out through five interconnected movements: Mr. Potential Food, Mango/Guava, Gamelanotron, Stolen, and Chicken Gumbo: Creole Style.
- Ramon Castillo
Text featured in Agak-Agak, recipe from Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus: "CHICKEN GUMBO, CREOLE STYLE—For about twelve or fifteen, one young hen chicken, half pound ham, quart fresh okra, three large tomatoes, two onions, one kernel garlic, one small red pepper, two tablespoons flour, three quarts boiling water, half pound butter, one bay leaf, pinch salt and cayenne[Pg 13] pepper. To mix, mince your ham, put in the bottom of an iron kettle if preferred with the above ingredients except the chicken. Clean and cut your chicken up and put in separate saucepan with about a quart or more of water and teaspoonful of salt; set to the side of the fire for about an hour; skim when necessary. When the chicken is thoroughly done strip the meat from the bone and mix both together; just before serving add a quart of shrimps."
Midori Matsuo is a Boston-area composer and percussionist. ssss, her first gamelan composition, was written this fall for Gamelan Galak Tika. She is currently working on her second gamelan piece, based on an old children’s song from her parents’ hometown, Nagasaki, Japan.
Gamelan Galak Tika is America's most innovative Balinese Gamelan. Led by composer Evan Ziporyn, Galak Tika has performed groundbreaking music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, two Bang on a Can Marathons, at colleges all over New England and New York, and throughout Bali, Indonesia. Galak Tika was formed in 1993 and is dedicated to commissioning and performing new works by Balinese and American composers, for gamelan and mixed ensembles of gamelan and Western instruments, as well as performing traditional Balinese music and dance.
ENSEMBLE ROBOT is a collective of artists, musicians, engineers, and programmers working together to make robotic musical instruments. Founded by Christine Southworth and Leila Hasan in 2003, the group has commissioned over a dozen new works for humans and robots, and performed throughout the northeast at venues and festivals including The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, EMPAC and Wired Magazine NextFest.
ROBOTS: The Bot(i)Cello, The Blobot, The Whirlybot, The Heliphon
HUMANS: Andy Cavatorta (engineer), Chyle Crossley (engineer), Giles Hall (programmer), Leila Hasan (co-founder), Erik Nugent (fine metal &woodwork), Christine Southworth (artistic director, co-founder), Bill Tremblay (engineer)